Every Monday since January 30th, Tennessee citizens have packed the halls of their state capitol in Nashville to let legislators know they are paying attention. These rallies are planned by an organization fittingly called “We Are Watching”.
On March 6th, the crowd of protesters was much smaller than in past weeks, but still making an impact. Each time the elevator doors opened to reveal a senator, the hall echoed with sound. While Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) elicited cheers, Senators Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) received hisses and boos.
“I’m personally here because I am offended that so much of the time and resources of the people who have been voted in are wrapped up in hate bills—bills specifically targeting the LGBT community and immigrants.” says Holly Carden of Smyrna, an immigrant herself.
“It’s an amazing country, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. This country has always been at the forefront of progress, and it makes no sense to me that there’s this weird dichotomy. It’s the most progressive [country] in so many areas, and the most asinine and lacking in so many others.”
It’s clear that many other Tennesseans are feeling the same way, especially with some of the unconstitutional legislation their representatives are attempting to push through this week. There’s HB0271/SB0155, which would prohibit Tennessee cities from adopting or enacting sanctuary city policies; and HB0007/SB0027, which would remove the intermediate appeal process for those facing the death penalty and Tennessee’s Bathroom Bill, HB0888/SB0771, which would have forced all public schools, including colleges and universities, to enact policies that require students and faculty to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.
Today, “We Are Watching” made a post showing how this bill would also harm the state’s economy, encouraging people to “contact the members of the House Education, Administration, and Planning Subcommittee and ask them to not waste taxpayer money on hateful and dangerous legislation.”
The pressure seems to be working. Mark Pody, the representative who introduced the bill, pulled it from consideration before the subcommittee vote that was schedule for today. However, the fight might not be fully over since Pody can reintroduce the bill later in the session.
Groups nationwide, such as We Are Watching and Indivisible are doing a thorough job of providing the information and resources people need to stay involved and stop the current administration’s agenda from spreading. The amount of citizens across the country getting in contact with their legislators has skyrocketed since the inauguration of our current president. And while it may not seem like much has been achieved, here in Tennessee, it has only been 36 days since the first “We Are Watching” rally.
When asked what she has to say to everyone, whether they are directly affected by the bills being voted on or not, Buick Audra, of Donelson, had some wise words: “Keep showing up. Don’t feel like you being protected means that you have no actions to take and no voice to use.”
Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird